CHANDIGARH, Punjab—Parkash Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, has finally disclosed his plans to not bring a resolution in the State Assembly to seek a clemency petition for Bhai Davinderpal Singh Bhullar. Bhai Bhullar is facing the death sentence for an alleged bomb blast plotted against Maninderjit Bitta, Chairman of the All India “Anti-Terrorist” Front. Badal made the formal announcement while speaking to the press at the inauguration of a hospital in Mohali this past Thursday.
Earlier, Badal had alleged that he would seek clemency for Bhai Davinderpal Singh Bhullar. Such a plan by the Shiromani Akali Dal (B) was met with surprise but welcomed by Sikh masses—even those that opposed Badal. Support for Bhai Bhullar’s campaign was a vital point used by the Akali Dal and Sant Samaj in seeking support in the recently contested Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee elections. The initial portrayal of support by Badal was always questioned by SAD (B) rivals. Capt. Amarinder Singh especially questioned Badal and described this move as a mere political stunt. He asked Badal numerous times to openly announce his stance on Bhai Davinderpal Singh Bhullar’s death sentence.
While speaking to the press, Badal alleged that the proposal to not seek clemency was decided at a party meeting. Although he alleged that the Akali Dal is still in favour of converting Bhai Bhullar’s death sentence to imprisonment for life, due to opposition by the Bhartiya Janta Party (a radical right wing Hindu organization) the Akali Dal will not provide any support to Bhai Bhullar. He said that the issue will be deliberated upon in more depth at upcoming party meetings. He further acknowledged that had the Akali Dal not withdrawn its support in Bhai Bhullar’s campaign, other political parties would oppose the clemency petition purposely and thus harm his case.
Capt. Amarinder Singh on the other hand, publicly denounced the decision by Parkash Badal. He said that Badal is again playing with the sentiments of the Punjabi People and using political issues to his advantage. According to Amarinder Singh, instead of deciding against the clemency petition, Badal should have convinced his political partners to support the petition. He further questioned Badal on how such a decision was taken without first discussing it with political partners. Amarinder Singh expressed grief as Bhai Bhullar is on death row while politically minded persons are using this issue to gain support.
According to Capt. Amarinder Singh, Badal has never been sincere with his statements about Bhai Bhullar. He said that the same Badal who is flip flopping about Bhai Bhullar’s clemency had labelled him a terrorist and threat to the state of Punjab in the Supreme Court. Amarinder Singh went on saying that at that time, Badal was seeking the support of Sumedh Saini’s sympathizers and when there was need to appease Bhai Bhullar’s supporters, Badal started giving statements in his support.
The All India Sikh Student Federation also condemned the flip flopping of the Badal Government on such sensitive issues. Karnail Singh Peermohammed, who is actively involved in Bhai Bhullar’s campaign, stated that on one side Akali Dal is alleging support for Bhai Bhullar while on the other, they are aiding police officers such as Sumedh Saini who is responsible for carnage against Bhai Bhullar’s family members. Just like Capt. Amarinder Singh, Peermohammed hinted at Badal’s hypocrisy and alleged that Bhai Bhullar can only find justice if he is transferred to Punjab from the Tihar Jail. The Punjab Government has refused to accept the transfer of Bhai Bhullar, claiming that such a move would be “dangerous.”